How are venture capitalists paid?
How Are Venture Capitalists Compensated? Venture capitalists make money from the carried interest of their investments, as well as management fees. Most VC firms collect about 20% of the profits from the private equity fund, while the rest goes to their limited partners.
Venture capitalists make money in two ways. The first is a management fee for managing the firm's capital. The second is carried interest on the fund's return on investment, generally referred to as the “carry.” Management fees.
A venture capitalist (VC) is an investor that provides capital to new businesses, typically startups with high growth potential, in exchange for an equity stake. A liquidity event is an event that allows early investors in a company to cash out some or all of their equity.
Most venture debt takes the form of a growth capital term loan. These loans usually have to be repaid within three to four years, but they often start out with a 6- to 12-month interest-only (I/O) period. During the I/O period, the company pays accrued interest, but not principal.
|Compensation Excluding Carry
|Share In Carry
|$150,000 - $480,000
|Principal or Vice President (VP)
|$140,000 - $340,000
|Junior Partner / Partner
|$400,000 - $600,000
|General Partner / Managing Director
|$500,000 - $2,000,000
The typical carried interest rate charged to LPs is 20%—although some GPs can command higher rates. This means that after the LPs are repaid their original investment amount, the GPs will receive 20% of the profits from the fund, while the remaining 80% of profits are paid to the LPs.
And carried interest varies widely but could potentially add $0 or increase total compensation by 2x, 4x, or even more. Junior Partners are likely to earn around the $500K level (or less), with General Partners in the $500K – $1 million range in terms of salary + year-end bonus.
Funds are structured to guarantee partners a comfortable income while they work to generate those returns. The venture capital partners agree to return all of the investors' capital before sharing in the upside.
If they have invested in equity, they are buying shares in the company and will receive a return if and when the company is sold or goes public. If a startup is unable to repay its venture capitalists, regardless of whether they have invested in debt or equity, they may be able to negotiate a new agreement with them.
No repayment required: Unlike loans, venture capital investments do not require repayment. Instead, investors receive a share of the company's equity, which can provide significant financial gains if the company is successful.
Why avoid venture capital?
You give up some control of your company
Venture capitalists essentially buy equity in your brand, which means they now have a say in how you operate. While ideally those investors have deep experience and contacts in your industry, they also come with their own opinions about how you do things.
You might only be in the office for 50-60 hours per week, but you still do a lot of work outside the office, so venture capital is far from a 9-5 job. This work outside the office may be more fun than the nonsense you put up with in IB, but it means you're “always on” – so you better love startups.
By the numbers, a typical amount of venture debt for startups is: 20 to 40% of the most recent equity round; No more than 10% of the startup's durable enterprise value; As a percentage of net burn, consider keeping debt service at less than 25%;
Who Are the Sharks? The venture capitalists, or sharks, who appear on the show are known for their larger-than-life personalities and intense approach to business. Each shark has earned their own reputation over the years, with some being more sympathetic and others being particularly critical.
A day in the life of a VC analyst
Much like other jobs in finance, the days and hours are long and the work is never-ending. Analysts are usually in the office early and begin their day with a combination of responding to emails, confirming meetings, and reading the latest industry news that their firm focuses on.
Becoming a venture capitalist requires a combination of strong educational background and relevant work experience, paving the way for a thriving career in the industry. Venture capitalists come from diverse educational backgrounds, but degrees in business, finance, economics, or related fields hold particular value.
The 2% management fee is paid to hedge fund managers regardless of the fund's performance. A hedge fund manager with $1 billion AUM earns $20 million in management fees annually even if the fund performs poorly.
At the low end, such as at a brand-new fund with a few hundred million under management, a Partner might earn in the $500K to $1 million range for base salary + year-end bonus. As fund sizes approach several billion under management, Partners move closer to an average of $1-2 million in base salary + bonus.
What is a private equity waterfall? A distribution waterfall in private equity is the methodology by which revenues and profits are split between the fund's investors and the general partner.
Investor and TV personality Mark Cuban is probably best known as one of the eccentric venture capitalists, or “sharks,” on the popular ABC television show “Shark Tank.” But outside of the Tank, Cuban is also a successful entrepreneur in his own right.
What degree do you need for venture capital?
Many venture capitalists have master's degrees in business management, Information Technology, engineering, healthcare management, or even the liberal arts from Ivy League schools or other prestigious colleges. Some have law or medical degrees.
Much of this stress is the result of intense pressure from a fund's investors — limited partners — to produce good returns. VC is among the riskiest major asset class, and it can be well over a decade before a deal returns a profit — if it returns any cash at all.
The venture capitalists who invested in the startup have put their money at risk, and if the startup fails, they could lose all of their investment. The venture capitalists have invested in the startup with the expectation that they will make a return on their investment.
Research shows that three in four startups backed by VC never end up returning their cash to investors. Meanwhile, as many as 30-40% of investors never get back their entire initial investment from a startup.
The average venture capital firm receives more than 1,000 proposals per year. Approximately 30% of startups with venture backing end up failing. Around 75% of all fintech startups crash within two decades. Startups in the technology industry have the highest failure rate in the United States.